Pros - Bass definition, Separation and soundstage, Natural sound, Ergonomics, Great cable
Cons - Slower sub-bass, Occasional midrange difficulties, Treble may be too polite for some
Before we head into the review, I just want to thank all of my readers and supporters over the last year and a half. This marks my 100th post and already the website has grown so much! I’m delighted to develop as a writer and provide ever more comprehensive and engaging articles to my readers. I’ve found great hospitality from others in this hobby, it is truly a wonderful place to be. It has been a life changing year for me, I hope others just getting into audio have a great time and those who have been here since the beginning continue to find new interests within the hobby!
Penon Audio are known to many as a friendly retailer that provides Chi-Fi best hits at an affordable price (and to me, they provide really quick free shipping too). But few know them nearly as much for their own in-house creations, they are becoming something like the Massdrop of Asia. And their newest creation is perhaps their best, it offers a stunning price/performance ratio in addition to a great accessory set. Penon’s BS1, is an affordable $40 USD earbud based upon the venerable MusicMaker Tomahawk. However, Penon’s new earbud builds upon its legacy in almost every way with numerous revisions to both design and sound that make a world of difference in real world usage. Let’s see how the BS1 performs relative to similarly priced models and compared to its progenitor.
I would like to thank Chi Kong Hui from Penonaudio very much for getting in contact and providing me with the BS1 for the purpose of an honest review. All words are my own and despite receiving the earphone free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
About Me, Background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases –
I generally prefer a u-shaped sound that is close to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound. I’m not particularly treble sensitive so I may be more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I will note if I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review and describe the sound changes.
The BS1 is much more pleasantly packaged than the vast majority of Chinese earbuds that usually come without packaging at all. The BS1 rather includes a nice hard box that magnetically opens.
Inside is a zippered hard case, ear guides, shirt clip, extra foam covers (4 pairs of foams, 2 pairs of donuts) and the earbuds themselves.
The case is small and protective, it’s actually an SD card case though the plastic holders can be removed. The foams are nicely cut, Penon also includes both red and black covers to denote left and right since the earpieces look identical. I recommend Heigi donut foams, they aren’t included with the BS1, but they produce a more balanced sound. I will note the properties of each cover in the sound section below.
Penon’s BS1 might not immediately stand out quite like the Tomahawk that precedes it, but the earbud is certainly no less impressive in the hand and is considerably more conforming to the ear. Gone is the chromed finish of the Tomahawk, its angular edges and bold branding. The BS1 is all about subtlety and refinement, not just in its acoustic tuning, but in its design, and the culmination of a few small tweaks make a huge stride over the Tomahawk in ergonomics, comfort and sonic consistency.
Upon first listen, what stuck out to me was the comfort provided by the BS1 which is considerably improved over the Tomahawk. The BS1 sports more rounded and sculpted features, the rears are thinner and the edges less angular. The concave sculpting of the rears of the housings perfectly slot into the ear without forming hotspots, unlike the straight edged Tomahawk, and provide a purchase when removing the earbuds from the ear. In addition, the BS1 utilises thin plastic strain reliefs on the earpieces rather than the aluminium coke bottles on the Tomahawk, which were the prime source of discomfort for many users.
As a result, the BS1 is hugely improved in terms of long wearability and even finds comfort when sleeping, I was able to wear them for hours with minimal discomfort whereas the Tomahawk would hurt my ears after about an hour. The BS1 is about the same size as most Yuin style earbuds, making it quite compact. And with those revised strain-reliefs, the earbud achieves similar fitment depth and stability, especially with foam covers. I personally find them a bit more comfortable than Sennheiser MX500 style earbuds, putting them among the most comfortable earbuds on the market.
I’m also a fan of their very understated look. The BS1 assumes a uniform black finish which is very smooth and while seams are present, they are all subtly rounded to prevent abrasion. Build quality remains as strong as the Tomahawk with a metal construction save for the plastic front. They have a smoother finish than the Tomahawks and look to be slightly better machined. The earbuds are very minimalist with absolutely no markings, the only branding to be seen is the Penon logo on the 3.5m plug. The earbuds have a small white dot on the bottom of the right earpiece to denote orientation though it’s a bit hard to see. Sides are more easily differentiated when installing different coloured foams on each side.
But perhaps my favourite aspects of the BS1 is their cable, which is massively improved over the Tomahawk’s tacky, springy unit. The BS1 has a great looking silvery cable with a transparent sheath (though I’m convinced it’s OFC copper underneath). It is super supple and smooth and doesn’t catch on clothes or fabric. The softer cable in addition to the lack of seal also produces almost zero microphonic noise. The cable is so wonderfully compliant with zero memory and spring, easily coiling and avoiding tangles exceptionally well. It is similar to the cable utilised by the Musicmaker TP16 and the red coloured Ting, but it is slightly thinner and appreciably more compliant.
Perhaps my only gripe is its straight 3.5mm plug, I usually prefer a right angle unit, but the knurling on the plug enables easy plugging and unplugging. The plug is also slim enough to fit in most phont cases. The y-split is also a nice low profile unit constructed from metal but has no strain relief, though earpieces and jack, the most common point of stress and failure, both have small but effective relief.
The BS1 also has a rubber chin slider which holds its place pretty well. So while the BS1 and Tomahawk may look similar on a surface level, in use, they couldn’t be more different; the BS1 really fixes every ergonomic complaint I had with the original Tomahawk.
But it is with their sound that the BS1 most diverges from the MRZ Tomahawk, the BS1 is a different beast entirely. Though the specs are similar, it is highly likely that the BS1 is utilising a different driver or extensive tuning to achieve a considerably different tone. The BS1’s revised design also produces a slightly deeper fit thereby achieving an improved seal and more low-end quantity though that does not account for the extent of the sound changes I am hearing.
Full Foam – Donut Foam – Heigi Donut Foam
The BS1 comes pre-equipped with full foams which cover the entire front face of the earbuds. They sounded pretty nice but a little veiled for my tastes. Switching to donut foams, which have a small cut-out in the centre, provided a more pleasing tonality with improved balance and a bit more clarity though the donut foams still covered the majority of the sound holes at the front of the bud. I found a most agreeable tonality with Heigi donut foams equipped, they have an even larger opening at the front which left the sound holes uncovered, but still provide seal for low-end extension. With the Heigi’s, the BS1’s had really nice midrange clarity and all veil was lifted. The high-end became a little more prominent and details were more pristine than before. Unlike the Venture earbuds, the BS1’s are too lean to be used without foams but find nice balance with foams installed. As such, all comments will be with Heigi donut foams installed, I do highly recommend buying a pack just to experiment with. I bought my set from Penon, they about $3.
The BS1 is a nicely balanced earbud that avoids being over bright like the TP16 and granular like the Tomahawk. It has a u-shaped tonality with a nudge of extra bass and mostly laid back treble. But while they possess a little extra warmth down low and some extra crispness up top though mids tend to draw attention with their great clarity and body. The BS1 provides an easy going, organic sound that is fantastic for long listening sessions but never comes across as bland or boring.
Despite those huge 15.4mm drivers, I didn’t notice enormous change with burn-in. Perhaps they achieved a little more clarity, I feel like bass has tightened up slightly with added texture. Otherwise, changing the covers made the biggest difference to the earbud’s sound.
Soundstage, Imaging and Separation –
Though I feared that their deeper fit would compromise space, the BS1 is wonderfully expansive in its presentation. They are actually more obviously spacious than the more expensive Shozy earbuds at the cost of sounding less natural though the E1008 is more open yet. They are more width focussed as most gear seems to be and depth is just modest. Songs with backing vocals and effects easily reach outside the head. Imaging is a bit vague though earbuds tend to be a little more unconcise than in-ears due to the nature of their fit. Considering their price, the BS1 is still a nice performer and they easily have more accurate placement than the Fiio EM3 and TP16. Centre image is also pretty diffuse, they tend to push vocals more to the side though it’s a very enveloping presentation that is laid-back and easy to listen to. Separation, on the other hand, is great on account of their space, they aren’t easily overwhelmed despite not having the tightest, most agile sound.
The BS1 has enormous sensitivity at 114dB and a low 32ohm impedance, they are a little harder to drive than the lower impedance Shozy earbuds though they aren’t difficult to drive in the grand scheme of things. Even my iPod Nano 7G had little difficulty achieving high listening volumes and the BS1 realised much of its potential from this lower powered source. They did sound a little nicer from my Fiio X3 though the differences weren’t huge. The earbuds also don’t respond much to higher output impedances meaning they will sound consistent from almost every source. Amplification isn’t necessary and the earbuds barely pick up any hiss. The BS1 is easy to drive and not source sensitive at all.
The BS1 isn’t a bass monster, but their warmer presentation will please a lot of listeners looking for a bit more nuance to their music. Sub-bass has the most emphasis in the low-end, which is a modest bump over neutral and has really nice extension for an earbud. Sub-bass is pretty tight, it does miss the texture and definition of higher-priced models, but provides some nice slam and rumble to the BS1’s sound. Of note, sub-bass extension was hugely improved when equipping Heigi foams which provide a better seal than most covers. With regards to mid and upper bass, earbuds have this strange quality which really separates each frequency and despite sub-bass bearing this notable emphasis, the rest of the bass response is surprisingly clear and textured. They don’t have huge mid and upper bass warmth but both are slightly lifted without much noticeable bloat or muddiness due to that separation. The rest of the bass response is slightly warm and more analogue in character. Mid-bass texturing is really nice and bass detail easily bests similarly priced in-ears. Resolution is also quite nice, the earbuds still aren’t perfectly clear and lack that sense of immediacy, but bass notes are easily discerned from one another and are in great balance with other frequencies. If the earbuds have one downfall, it’s that sub-bass is a little on the slower side, it does keep up with the rest of the sound, but on faster or more monotonous tracks, the earbuds do tend to drone. Either way, bass is nicely textured and detailed on a whole, sub-bass extension is superior to most earbuds at the cost of some tightness and speed.
Despite having many fans, just as many listeners flogged the Tomahawk for having an unnatural, bright and slightly metallic midrange. The BS1 thankfully improves upon all of these issues but that’s not to say that their performance has been perfected. Instantly, balance is improved on the BS1, they are no longer so bright though they still carry a very slightly brighter tonality. As such, female vocals and guitars hold a little more emphasis in the sound over male vocals and keyboard. Vocals are very nicely bodied but retain a lot of clarity, it’s a really natural and pleasing tuning on a whole, especially when compared to similarly priced in-ears which can get a bit wonky in their presentation. And mids hold up pretty well under scrutiny, if I’m being a bit more critical, I would say that they still aren’t as natural as the pricier Shozy earbuds, with a slightly hollow tone at times though that can be attributed to the mastering of the source material. Female vocals, despite holding the greatest emphasis, don’t extend exquisitely like some earbuds though they sound quite nice on the vast majority tracks. Piano also sounds a little off, the BS1’s are lacking that pristine sense of resolution and some linearity. That being said, the BS1 avoids sounding nasal, truncated or over-forward in its upper midrange which is a huge step over the TP16 and VE Monk+ and this refinement is what kicks them into a higher class of performance. On the flipside, male vocals sound really nice, tonally correct and reproduced with pleasing resolution. Some bass spill is evident when listening to Radiohead’s “No Surprises”, Thom’s vocals were slightly veiled and over warmed though I didn’t notice this issue on most tracks I listened to. This is offset by some really nice detail retrieval presented in a more laid-back fashion, considerably more so than the Tomahawk. As such, the earbuds don’t lack detail, but intricacies aren’t forward in the BS1’s sound and they retain just enough crispness to service acoustic guitar. Strings and trumpets are also given a smoother presentation than most earbuds which err on the side of rawness over refinement. And these niggles are insignificant when factoring in Penon’s asking price, even coming from the exceptional Campfire Jupiter and 64Audio U3, nothing on the BS1 sounded particularly wrong or off, which is very uncommon. The BS1 is, therefore, a very natural and mature sounding earbud that I think a lot of listeners will enjoy, their midrange is an outstanding performer in this price class.
Highs are quite interesting, they present similarly to the Shozy earbuds which is to say, more laid-back with a hint of lower treble emphasis that imparts some interest within their sound. They therefore avoid being overly laid-back like the 1More E1008 and also avoid being over-forward like the original Tomahawk where I struggled to find a foam cover that brought out the bass while sufficiently dampening their highs. The BS1 also comes across as more refined and considerably smoother than the Tomahawk and though they still have notable high-end roll-off, it is more gradual with higher notes sounding distant rather than cut off. They still have some nice air when listening to jazz and strings sound delicate enough, they are also lacking the occasional grain of the Tomahawk at the cost of being slightly less detailed and defined. Still, treble is well presenting and has some nice qualities. If you are looking for aggressive detailing and clarity, these earbuds will likely disappoint you, but for lovers of a slightly smoother, more laid-back sound that is free of fatigue and sibilance, the BS1 delivers without sounding particularly dull.
The BS1 is a noble first effort from Penon, it’s refinement is especially impressive given that some vastly larger and more experienced manufacturers can’t pull off the earbud form factor. Several small tweaks over the original Tomahawk make a world of difference in daily usage; the BS1 is a comfortable, very well constructed and refined sounding earbud at a very affordable price. I’m a particular fan of their revised housings and vastly improved cable which is easily one of the best I’ve handled around this price. I also admire Penon’s subdued styling choices which reflect similarly upon their more refined acoustic tuning. So while they do have some bass spill and perhaps an overly laid-back high-end back for some, for just $40 USD, Penon provide a stunning soundstage, fantastic bass definition and a super natural, analogue tonality.
Verdict – 8/10, The BS1 provides all day comfort, exceptional build and comfort combined with a smooth, natural tone. It also offers a sizable performance upgrade over cheaper models and competes favourably to similarly priced models of differing form factor. The BS1 is a surprisingly well-rounded and versatile performer that addresses essentially all of the complaints we had from models before.
Cons - Bass extension - Average sound stage for an ear bud - Poor L/R indication
Today we're going to be checking out Penon Audio's newest in-house creation, the BS1 Experience Version Ear Bud.
Back in the day when Penon Audio released their first audio product, the Penon IEM, I hopped on board and included them in my purchase of the Fidue A31s. At that time I was just getting into the hobby, Chinese stuff in particular, and was enjoying all the great gear you could get for not a lot of money. When the IEM arrived, I was impressed with the clean, comfortable design and powerful sound that was comparable to much of what Knowledge Zenith was putting out at the time. They were a somewhat mid-bassy and slightly veiled, but for 10 bucks they were a great little earphone. Durable too. Three years later and they're still going strong.
Penon is back and time time they're targeting those who are passionate about ear buds, a style of earphone that has recently been receiving some much deserved and well overdue love. With a clean design, excellent materials, and an engaging signature, the BS1 is a pretty solid entry and something to consider. Let's look at the why in greater detail, shall we?
The BS1 was purchased at a discounted rate for the purposes of review. There is no financial incentive for writing this review. The thoughts and opinions within are mine and mine alone. They do not represent Penon Audio or any other entity.
I'm a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI's multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.
Fast forward a couple years and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don't do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I'll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1, LG G5, Walnut V2s, and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with the Creative SoundBlaster Recon3D usb amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass, though lately I've been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. My favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1 with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.
Packaging and Accessories:
If you've been following my reviews for any length of time you'll know that I appreciate an engaging unboxing experience and useful accessories. Engaging can mean an in-depth and flashy experience like the FLC 8S or something no-frills and environmentally friendly like the Double Tap Audio R1. Penon kept it sweet and simple with the BS1.
The first thing you see is a small blue box with a colorful Penon sticker in the top left hand corner of the main face. Other than that, the box is plain as day. From the front, the lid is held shut via magnets. Flip it back and you're immediately greeted by a small, clam shell hard case which holds the BS1 and accessories. All-in-all you get:
- BS1 ear buds
- carrying case
- shirt clip
- 5 sets of foams in various colors (includes one set of donut foams)
- Penon branded Velcro strap for cable management
(I got a few extra foams with mine)
I appreciate that Penon includes foams of various colors because the L/R indicators on the BS1 are limited to a single dot on the left earpiece, hidden behind the strain relief. An area of improvement in my opinion, especially if someone who is vision impaired orders this ear bud. Without performing a channel test it's unlikely they would be able to tell which channel is which.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation (I jk, I jk, these don't isolate. They're ear buds.):
From my first glimpse of the preview pics, I was confident the BS1's cable was going to kick some serious butt. When they arrived, I was not disappointed. This is a cable I've gushed about in the past in it's application on the MusicMaker TW1 and AK Audio Light T2. It does nearly everything right. Strain relief? All there except at the y-split where you find a chin cinch. Memory? Completely absent. Bounciness? Nothing. Microphonics/cable noise? A thing of the past. Durable? So far, so good. All that and it looks great. I've said it before and I'll say it again; this is the best cable you can get on a budget product right now. Good choice Penon.
The rest of the BS1's build isn't all too shabby either. The rear section of each ear piece is metal while the face plate protecting the driver is plastic. The matte black housings are free of any branding and have a very straightforward bell-shape to them that flairs at the back. This makes them easy to hold and ensures they stay securely in your ear. Down near the strain reliefs are three vents through which you can clearly see some filter material. I wouldn't be shocked to see modders playing around with different materials to see what effect they would have.
When it comes to comfort the BS1 is excellent. Like many ear buds, you just pop them into your outer ear and they rest ever so daintily, held in place by your antitragus. The BS1 is very light and free of sharp edges so there's really not much to say. Although, since this is a pretty standard ear bud design and the housings have some thickness to them, those that have trouble getting ear buds to fit probably won't be experiencing a revolution with the BS1.
I, like many, for the longest time was under the impression that ear buds were a waste of time and money. They were cheap throwaways packed in with audio devices and were simply meant to be a stopgap until you could get something better. Clearly that's not the case with the modern ear bud scene thriving the way it is. You've got wicked good entry level stuff and totl gear from Venture Electronics, TY/HiZ/Seahf, Rose, and many others. Penon's entry costs a little more than your hyper-budget cheapos, but it's still far from what I would consider expensive. Also, it's got a unique design instead of running with the same MX500 housing everyone and their mother uses, fantastic build quality, and most importantly, the sound quality to back up the 39 USD they're expecting you to pay.
I found the BS1 to be characterized by a slightly warm, mid-focused presentation. Lower treble, mid-range, and mid-bass are all the most prominent aspects. Treble rolls off slowly and smoothly while the sub-bass dip is a little more prominent than I would prefer. I'm not knocking them for this quality given ear buds aren't necessarily known for a killer sub-bass experience. It's simply an observation that is in line with my experiences with most earphones in this style. The way they fit you may also lead to a differing experience, so keep that in mind.
The BS1's treble is prominent but not overpowering. Listening to one of my favorite treble-heavy tracks, that being 'Bluestep' by Gramatik, the BS1 shows itself to be smooth and well controlled with good clarity and detail retrieval. It also lacks the shimmer and sparkle that really makes the track come alive, though on the other hand this helps make it a non-fatiguing listen. In this case it's a nice trade-off as there is still enough shimmer to keep some of the excitement going.
In the middle frequencies is where the BS1 truly shines. It's a thick, weighty presentation with good body and a naturalness that many earphones I've used struggle to encapsulate. This is very evident on Godsmack's acoustic ballad 'Hollow'. Sully Erna and Lisa Guyer's surprisingly powerful duet is matched by an emotionally poignant acoustic guitar, mandolin, and cello that are faithfully reproduced by the BS1, drawing you in.
The BS1's low end takes on a prominent mid-bass focus that has a surprisingly good punch for an ear bud. It lacks extension though, taking away from some tracks such as Haywyre's 'Sculpted' which relies on a deep bass-line to guide the tune. Shift over to a song that has less sub-bass and more mid-bass reliance, such as Supertramp's 'Rudy', and the BS1 will put a smile back on your face.
When it comes to sound stage, I didn't really find the BS1 doing anything special in terms of size. This is a bit of a bummer as they image very well and have great separation. Going back to 'Rudy', the BS1 does a stellar job of giving each vocal element and instrument a clear stage to play. on The immersion is impressive, and would only be made more so were there more space to play within. Bringing in King Crimson's 'Starless and Bible Black' shows off the BS1's ability to separate congested and busy aspects of a track. After a hilariously slow, yet intense build from ~4:25 to ~9:08, the track explodes into a crazy jazz rock extravaganza that with many earphones lacks any sense clarity and definition, devolving into a glob of noise. Not the case here. It was a cake walk for the BS1. Didn't break a sweat. Two thumbs up.
Overall the BS1 is a very enjoyable and well-tuned ear bud. They have a competent, textured, and fairly detailed signature that really only falters on tracks reliant on deep bass. I would prefer it had a larger sound stage allowing it to really flex and show off it's excellent imaging and separation qualities, but as-is it's just fine.
*Slow Clap* Well done, Penon. You've brought to an ever-growing and extremely competitive ear bud market something that really sells what makes this style of product appealing. The BS1 has a great cable with quality materials that are put together with care and precision, and with a clean and comfortable design to boot. It's beautiful, mid-focused presentation is a treat for the ears and while I wish it's sub-bass extension were improved, what is there is acceptable.
If you've been hesitant to try ear buds and want to give them a go with something that will make you feel like you got something worth your while, the BS1 is well worth a look.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Aesop Rock - Crows 1
Aesop Rock - Maintenance
BT - The Antikythera Mechanism
The Crystal Method - Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes)
Daft Punk - Touch
Gramatik - Bluestep (Album Version)
Godsmack - Hollow
Godsmack - One Rainy Day
Incubus - 2nd/3rd/4th Movements of the Odyssey
Haywyre - Sculpted
Infected Mushroom - Deeply Disturbed
Jessie J - Bang Bang
Kiesza - Hideaway
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
Pink Floyd - Money
Skindred - Death to all Spies
Supertramp - Rudy
The Prodigy - Get Your Fight On
Witcher 2 Official Soundtrack
Various EDM mixes by SubSil3nt and Vintage Culture
Pros - Sub-bass Extension, Transparency of Mids, Price to Performance Value
Cons - Soundstage can be wider and deeper
Penon Audio is a Chinese company selling audio gears. They have decided to come up with their own earbud named Penon BS1 Experience Version Earbud. For simplicity sake, I will just call it the BS1 in this review.
The BS1 comes in a blue package with the Penon sticker on the top left. After opening the box, you can see a Penon cable wrap on top of the black circular case. Inside the case, there are 2 packs of foam cushions, 1 shirt clip and of course, the earbud. The accessories are enough for an earbud. I must say Penon is very professional in their overall presentation.
The BS1 housing is made of plastic and it is non-detachable, meaning you cannot change the cable for aftermarket cables. I really like the build quality of the BS1. Really solid. There is good strain relief too on the earbud. You can tell that the designer of the earbud is extremely thoughtful given how many earbuds these days do not have them. Given this point, I am very impressed already. Moving on to the cable, the material is probably your standard silver-plated copper (SPC). The cable is soft and supple. It is nicely done for cable management. Keeping the entire earbud slick-looking, the components (earbud housing, y-splitter, slider and jack) used are all black. Next up, the slider is just a black rubber that allows you grip on it and adjust accordingly on the cable. The y-splitter is made of metal and with some grip on the bottom part of it. Lastly, it is a straight jack with the Penon logo on it with strain relief.
Sound Analysis Lows
The bass extension is pretty good. What I like about the BS1 is the sub-bass. It is so good that I would coin it the Ibasso IT03 of earbuds. The texture is smooth in general. It is important to note that the bass reproduction is quite effortless and since it is not hard hitting at all, the listener can listen for quite a long time. The mid bass has a nice slam to it. I really enjoy the punch that will keep you going for the rest of the songs without being fatiguing. Also, it does not bleed into the midrange. There is a smooth transition from the lows to the mids. At this point, I am more than impressed on its sub bass reproduction. Just marvellous. In fact, one of the best sub bass I have ever heard in an earbud.
The mids is very energetic with an emphasis on the upper mids. With this emphasis, female vocals sound extremely sweet but this does not mean male vocals sound bad either. Lower mids are not compromised either. There is a good level of transparency and cleanliness in the mids and it is very hard to find this level in earbuds at this price point. It is comparable to my TY Hi-Z 650 in all honesty with the 650 having a slight edge as it is capable of oozing out more details than the BS1. With such a natural midrange that will do justice for vocals, I really think this is one of my favourite earbuds already all for the right reasons - the mighty sub bass and the crystal clear mids. However, I have yet to cover the highs which I will do so in the next section.
The treble is just crisp and clear. It is extended nicely and you will not experience any harshness or sibilance. Very well controlled but definitely not the star of the show. However, it lacks that extra sparkle. For me, I feel the highs are just nice but some may prefer the extra sparkle. At this stage, I am awed by the seamless transitions across the frequencies considering the price of this earbud. Overall, a pretty non-offensive approach in presenting the highs.
The BS1 has a decent soundstage with an appropriate amount of depth and width. I will not elaborate much on here as it is just the standard soundstage you get from a mid- tier earbud.
I use the Ibasso DX200 to compare the different earbuds.
Penon BS1 vs MusicMaker TP16
The BS1 has a better extension with more sub-bass than the TP16. In addition, the mid-bass of the BS1 is punchier, hence, it is able to produce more impact than the TP16. The bass is much tighter too. Overall, the quality of bass in BS1 is on a much higher level than the TP16. There is no competition at all. Moving on to the mids, BS1 is much more transparent and cleaner with a sweet emphasis on the upper mids. The clarity is better. On the flipside, the TP16 has that tinge of warmth. The treble on both is quite similar but the BS1 is more refined. For soundstage, BS1 has the edge in the width but TP16 for the depth.
Penon BS1 vs Auglamour RX-1
The BS1 has more sub-bass rumble than the RX-1 while the RX-1 has more mid-bass punch. The bass decay of BS1 is quicker than the RX-1. For the mids department, the RX-1 is more full-bodied and organic than the BS1 but is not up to the level of detailing of the BS1. Very contrasting sound. However, if you are looking for a more clinical earbud, I would take the BS1 all day. Like-wise for a more musical earbud, the RX-1. I am not implying the BS1 is not musical but in terms of musicality, RX-1 has an extra edge. For treble, BS1 is more clear and crisp with a high definition. The RX-1’s treble extension is less than the BS1. For soundstage, BS1 has the edge in the width but RX-1 for the depth.
Penon BS1 vs MusicMaker Tomahawk Mr Z
The BS1 has more sub-bass quantity and extends deeper than the Tomahawk. Both are controlled nicely but in terms of definition, the BS1 has an edge over the Tomahawk. The mid-bass of BS1 is punchier than the Tomahawk. Overall, the bass impact of BS1 is more prominent than the Tomahawk. Both have outstanding transitions from the lows to the mids. In the midrange department, they have similar emphasis in the upper mids. The BS1 has a slight advantage due to the added clarity it has. Wonderful presentation of mids from both of them with a high level of definition. Moving on to the treble, there is hardly any sibilance and harshness on them. The BS1 has more air and extension than the Tomahawk. For soundstage, Tomahawk slightly wins BS1 in terms of depth and width.
Penon BS1 vs PMV A01 AOEDE
The BS1 has a higher definition of bass straightaway when comparing with the PMV B01. It extends deeper with more sub-bass rumble. The extra level of quantity and quality really gives the BS1 an edge over the PMV B01. The BS1’s mids has more transparency and details than the PMV B01 which is more full-bodied. The PMV B01 is warmer. In terms of clinical performance, the BS1 is in another league. The PMV B01 has more quantity in treble but the BS1 is more controlled in this aspect. For soundstage, the BS1 has more width and depth than the PMV B01.
With the QP1R, the bass has better extension and the sub-bass rumble is more addictive to listen. The lower mids have more body with a faster mid-bass punch. Treble is more articulate too.
Ibasso DX200 With Amp 1
The DX200 increases the treble performance as it is more accurate and detailed. The bass is less aggressive and the mids are even more forward, giving an more intimate listen. One of my favourite pairing.
The stage is more wide and deep with a more analytical sound. The sub-bass rumble is less and treble is more refined. Mids become more forward and there is a tighter mid-bass punch.
The Penon BS1 is an excellent earbud at this price point for those who do not wish to pay a premium. You get excellent sub-bass extension and transparent mids. All in all, this has become one of my favourite earbuds in my collection.